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Which pickups for this old beauty?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Haans, Aug 5, 2017.


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  1. Haans

    Haans Altruistic nihilist Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Bergen, Norway
    The Les Paul model, in case you weren't sure:
    DSC_0153.JPG

    Now, this is a 70's japanese copy that I picked up in London in 1995. I was told it's an Avon, a cheap entry-level brand back then. It's beat up, rusty, and has a lot of weird stuff going on. The bridge is made of wood with no possibility of intonation other than moving the entire bridge back and forth. Also, a piece of the bridge has been cut off so that it won't interfere with the volume control (possibly left the factory that way!). In the 22 years I've had it, the only service I've given it would be some new strings now and then. Never touched the truss rod. Short scale, of course, chambered body by the sound of it.

    Now, of all my basses, this has the lowest action with no buzz. Plays like butter. Every time I pick it up, I feel the love I felt when I found it at Hanks Guitars all those years ago. It is, hands down, my favorite bass - except for one thing...


    The pickups kinda suck. No, they really suck. They suck the life out of my sound. Low output, muddy, boomy. Reminds me of listening to someone playing an Epiphone EB0 while covering the amp with a pillow. Vintage? Maybe. They are not for me, though.

    I want to swap the pickups for some that are more articulate. Rock'n'roll, mids to cut through the mix, good for overdrive, but not too modern. And they should fit. Ideally, I want to keep the covers as well. Current pickups measure 70*35 mm, bezels measure 90*50 mm.

    As for sound, I've always liked my MIJ Fender Jaguar, I love my new Sterling Ray34, and I like my Gibson EB2014 (but this is on the muddy, boomy side methinks). I rarely adjust anything on the bass controls, except perhaps dial back the treble as needed. Everything else wide open.

    Any suggestions? I am open to sending them somewhere to have the new pickups built inside the existing covers, but plug and play is also fine if drop-in replacements should exist.

    Thanks!
     

    Attached Files:

  2. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Cool looking bass! And thanks for the detailed write up. :)

    Those measurements are very close to standard guitar humbucker size, which means you have a lot of options, even though very few are marketed as bass pickups. Ignore the labels, it's all just magnets and wire.

    Any guitar humbucker will fit, and many will be suitable for your tonal goals. My first recommendation is the Wilde L90, although you may not be able to fit your covers over them. Fantastic tone - full, clear, articulate, loud.

    My second recommendation is the Lace Deathbucker, which is available in its original avant-garde design, as well as with some more normal-looking faux covers.

    Other choices include rail pickups such as the DiMarzio X2N, or its successor, the D-Activator X. Loads of output, lots of low mids, enough high end to be articulate but not overbearing. The GFS Power Rail/Crunchy Rail has a similar look, others here use them and like them.

    You could go active, with any of the EMG humbuckers.

    All of these should fit inside your existing rings (but perhaps measure the distance between the height adjustment screws to make sure).

    Additionally,

    is another good, albeit expensive, option. Curtis Novak can do this for you.

    Keep us posted!
     
    Haans likes this.
  3. Haans

    Haans Altruistic nihilist Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Bergen, Norway
    Thank you for the thorough answer! I'll check out those recommendations and also inquire with Curtis Novak. Since 1999 or so, maybe even before that, I've only brought this bass to rehearsal maybe a handful of times. Such a shame.
     
  4. Haans

    Haans Altruistic nihilist Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Bergen, Norway
    I've sent an email to Curtis and will have a look at the other options as well. I'm guessing custom pickups from Novak will be $300+ with postage to and from the US, so definitely not a cheap option. Might still be worth it, though.
     
    ctmullins likes this.
  5. Haans

    Haans Altruistic nihilist Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Bergen, Norway
    Seems most of these will not fit inside my chrome covers, but possibly inside the bezels. The GFS varieties are cheap! May be worth trying anyway.
     
  6. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    First thing I'd look at is if the pickups have the wires from both coils accesible. If so, I'd wire them in parallel. That'll move things in the direction you want to go. A zero (or very low) cost experiment.
     
    ctmullins, mech and Haans like this.
  7. Haans

    Haans Altruistic nihilist Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Bergen, Norway
    Hm, good idea. It's a longshot, but I'll have a look. How would I wire them in parallel?
     
  8. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    Assuming they're presently wired in series, there should be one wite that's connected to ground and one to the rest of the circuit (that's the "hot" wire) Leave those where they are.

    There should be two wires that connect to each other, but not to anywhere else in the circuit. Those you want to unsolder from each other.

    Now you need an ohmmeter. One of those two wires will register a resistance of a few thousand ohms to ground (and more tonthe hot wire, assuming you dime volume and tone controls).That one you want to solder to the rest of the circuit -same point as the hot wire. defined above. The other free wire will have about the same resistance, but to the hot wire. That one you want to connect to ground. That's it.
     
    Haans likes this.
  9. Haans

    Haans Altruistic nihilist Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Bergen, Norway
    From what I read, parallel means lower output and brighter tone?
     
  10. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    Parallel is lower output, and, if you don't change the loading, then it is more extended on tge treble end, which usually sounds brighter.

    If you change the loading (add a loading capacitor), you can tune the response to bring the bandwidth down as much as you want. There are other benefits to this as well.
     
    Haans likes this.
  11. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    Make mounting rings and install Firebird pickups.

    Try to get the ones Lull uses, those are nice.
     
  12. Surely there is someone in Scandinavia who is winding pickups and can rewind and install new magnets for you?. If not there, then the UK.
     
    Haans likes this.
  13. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    Go get a set of Musicman pickups, wire them like a Warwick $$, install a Duncan STP-3p, and have fun with it.
     
    Zoobiedood likes this.
  14. Active EMG ... they will fit nicely and the bass will sound killer !
     
  15. veebass

    veebass Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2014
    Australia
    The Gibson TB+s shaped like guitar humbuckers that have been used from time to time in Les Paul Basses and also in the recent ES 335 Bass may be worth investigating. They are good solid rock pickups. I much prefer them to the TB+s that were used in Thunderbirds, which I find too muddy and dark.
    The covers are about 70mm X 35mm.

    This clip illustrates the difference between the two types of TB+s.



    Same pickups in the ES 335 Bass

     
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  16. Haans

    Haans Altruistic nihilist Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Bergen, Norway
    Possibly. I don't know of anyone, and it would likely be more expensive anyway. Or cheaper and mediocre.

    As for the other suggestions - I want to keep the existing chrome covers if possible. Haven't really thought about active, but I'd prefer passive for now. This is for overdrive rock'n'roll.
     
  17. Haans

    Haans Altruistic nihilist Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Bergen, Norway
    Yes! That sounds about right. Will look into these as well.
     
  18. Check out the TV Jones lineup of pickups. They might just have something in your size.
     
    Haans likes this.
  19. Haans

    Haans Altruistic nihilist Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Bergen, Norway
    Thanks, looks like most are too wide either one or the other way. I will need to examine my own more closely. I see they have some bass models as well.
     
  20. Badwater

    Badwater

    Jan 12, 2017
    One option is have the pickups re-magnitized, and re-wound. That way the bass will have the original pickups with the addition for customized pickup wire, and amount warps of your choice.
     
    Haans likes this.